Did you know that while the man himself is buried in Lexington, Stonewall Jackson’s ARM is buried 115 miles away in Locust Grove, Virginia?!
The story of how Stonewall Jackson’s arm came to be buried over 100 miles from where his body was laid to rest is an interesting one. Weird, but interesting!
Just after dark on May 2, 1863, Jackson was returning from a successful and devastating attack against Union forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Returning to his own lines with several of his officers, Jackson decided to do some reconnaissance in the area. As he and his staff rode through the woods near Confederate lines, Jackson was struck by three bullets from his own confused men!
Two of those bullets (more like musket balls) shattered his left arm. The general was taken five miles farther inside friendly lines to Wilderness Tavern, a few miles west of Fredericksburg, where a hospital was set up. There, the arm had to be amputated.
“He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” Robert E. Lee
Confederate army commander Robert E. Lee decided that his irreplaceable general needed to recuperate in a safe place well behind friendly lines. He selected a plantation at Guinea Station, another 26 miles farther, as the best location for Jackson’s convalescence because of its nearness to a train station (that could hopefully bring Jackson to Richmond).
Unfortunately, the doctors learned that Jackson had a severe case of pneumonia, which was likely well underway before the fateful accident. With his wife, Mary Anna (summoned from Richmond) at his bedside, Jackson died eight days after the initial shooting, on May 10, 1863. (The small house he died in has now been turned into a shrine and is part of the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park).
Though his body would travel to Lexington, Jackson’s severed arm, back at Wilderness Tavern, would receive its own burial.
Thinking that the left arm of so great a soldier was too holy to let rot in the body part trash pile, Jackson’s company chaplain, Reverend Tucker Lacy, wrapped the arm in blankets and took it to his family cemetery, at his brother’s plantation, Ellwood Manor. The reverend gave the limb a standard Christian burial and placed a marker above the site.
But that’s not the end of the story for Stonewall Jackson’s arm.
On May 5, 1864, during the nearby Battle of the Wilderness, Ellwood served as the headquarters for Union Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. A Maryland colonel, staying in Ellwood Manor, made the following simple note in his journal: “200 yard from here where S. Jackson dies. His arm dug up by some pioneers and re-buried.”
In later years, another member of Jackson’s staff, Lieutenant James Power Smith, settled in Fredericksburg and married a member of the Lacy family. In 1903, Smith placed 10 granite monuments on the local battlefields to mark important war locations. One of those markers is still standing in Ellwood Manor’s cemetery.
Still later, in 1921, the U.S. Marine Corps conducted training maneuvers on farms nearby to Ellwood. The eccentric commander of the force was named General Smedley Butler. According to the owner of Ellwood by that time, Butler dismissed the idea that Jackson’s arm was truly buried there and ordered a squad of Marines to dig underneath the Smith marker to prove nothing was there. To his shock, they eventually unearthed the arm. Butler had it reburied and ordered a bronze plaque adhered to the top of the stone.
Since General Butler confirmed the presence of the arm, it luckily hasn’t been disturbed. Each year thousands of people visit Ellwood Manor, at 36380 Constitution Hwy, Locust Grove, to pay their respects to Stonewall Jackson’s arm.
Are you setting your sights on visiting Ellwood Manor cemetery to see the grave of Jackson’s arm? Tell us all about it in the comments!